Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Nonjudgmental Presence

To the degree that we accept that through Christ we ourselves have been reconciled with God we can be messengers of reconciliation for others. Essential to the work of reconciliation is a nonjudgmental presence. We are not sent to the world to judge, to condemn, to evaluate, to classify, or to label. When we walk around as if we have to make up our minds about people and tell them what is wrong with them and how they should change, we only create more division. Jesus says it clearly, "Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate. Do not judge; ... do not condemn; ... forgive" (Luke 6:36-37).

In a world that constantly asks us to make up our minds about other people, a nonjudgmental presence seems nearly impossible. But it is one of the most beautiful fruits of a deep spiritual life and will be easily recognized by those who long for reconciliation.

-Henri Nouwen, Bread For the Journey

3 comments:

Existential Punk said...

This is beautiful and appreciate you sharing. i LOVE Nouwen.

How would you deal with someone who says they don't hate you, they disagree with your 'lifestyle choice' and don't want to expose their kids to gays? They say the kids, when grown, can make up their own minds. This really happened to me on Facebook tonight with a former grad school classmate. We went to Pat Robertson's grad school, Regent University.

Thanks,

EP

SHANE said...

I found it necessary to throw 16 years of church and religion out the window when I realized I was REALLY gay. In my instance, if there was no way to reconcile my sexuality with my family, there certainly was NO way to reconcile it with fifty pews of their clones. Even the minister wanted to send me to a special school where they "changed gay men into straight men". I told him I felt it was wiser to have a special school where they "changed men into women", at least the results were viable. So at 16 I said goodbye to my entire family and to Jesus and have not looked back once. I have something better in my life than Jesus - I have ME in my life, standing tall and proud. Something I never found in church. I am my foundation - NOT the church.

Shane

Eugene said...

EP,

That's a tough situation, and one that I expect I'll eventually have to face as well. I'm not entirely sure what I would do myself; I suspect a lot would depend on the friend and my relationship with them.

If they're not a close friend, it might be better to part ways and focus on those people who are genuinely willing to be a part of your life. If you are close to them, it may (or may not) be worth maintaining the friendship, though it's perfectly fair for you to set boundaries of your own.

I'm hesitant to offer anything more specific, since every relationship is unique, except to say that the boundary between respecting another person's right to disagree with you and allowing them to treat you as less than fully human can be very a fine line...